I am the proud mommy to a 3-year-old little girl and a birth mom to an almost 8-year-old boy. I expect that one day I will be asked the question “is being a birth mom different than being a mom?” I am actually surprised someone has not asked me this question. Maybe people think this question is too personal. Maybe people think they will offend me. Maybe people have not thought about this question, but I have.

So, what is the difference? Well, there is the obvious answer. Mom = raising a baby. Birth mom = not raising a baby. While those are the obvious answers, it is so much more than that.

When my daughter was first born, I was happy! However, I had an extremely strange feeling that over took me in the hours after she was born. I am sure it had a lot to do with exhaustion and hormones but I knew that it was more than that. I watched my husband as he talked and loved on our new baby girl. I could not love on her the same. What was wrong with me? I did not really want to express these strange feeling with my husband because he was so happy!

As the day turned to night and my husband finally fell asleep in a little bed next to me, I began to stare at this little girl and asked myself, “Why am I feeling this way?” As I pondered these thoughts, a different baby’s face came into my mind, but it was a little boy instead of a little girl. It was my birth son. The last time I had been at the hospital to have a baby, it was not a joyful experience. It was a sacred experience but it was an experience of a heavy heart. As I was laying there holding my daughter, with my birth son’s face in my mind, I began to weep. The tears were tears of sadness. The strange feeling I had felt was grief, coming to the surface.

I missed my birth son. I missed the newborn baby that I had held at the same hospital 4 1/2 years earlier. I missed his baby smell and baby sounds. I missed him. I let the tears flow on my newborn baby girl.

As the tears slowed, something began to happen. The strange feeling started to go away. I looked at my daughter and my heart began to swell! I realized in that moment why I was so hesitant at first. I was afraid I was going to replace my birth son with my daughter. There is no replacement for my birth son. You cannot replace one child with another. I had to figure that out and sort out my feelings. My daughter and my birth son can both have my heart.

Almost eight years from placement and I am still trying to find my place as a mother and birth mother. Different titles with two entirely different roles. At times, it is tough. I do not ever want to forget about my birth son. However, I also want my daughter to know how special she is to me. While being a mom and a birth mom are both entirely different, they are two roles that I will take on with full force and love. I love the fact that I am my daughter’s mommy.love that I get to cuddle her, nurture her, and watch her grow. I also love that I am my birth son’s birth mommy. I love that I gave him life. I love that I gave him a family. I love that even though it was hard, I put his needs above my wants. I love that I get to watch him grow and be nurtured through pictures and letters that his parents send me. I love what I have learned in being both a birth mom and a mom. I love that being a birth mom has made me a better mom.

I have learned so much in both roles. I will continue to try to be the best mom and birth mom, because in the end, there really is no competition between the two.